BenQ W500: Affordable Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality
This section is organized into four areas. You can click on these anchor links (coming soon) to jump ahead to any topic: Black levels and shadow detail, Sharpness, and finally, General image quality. Let's get started:
BenQ W500 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
In the brighter scenes, the W500 did extremely well on skin tones. It is only on dark faces, that there appears to be too much red.
Let's start with the usual images:
From SD-DVD images from Lord of the Rings and The 5th Element:
This backlit image of Johnny Depp in Pirates, picks up a slightly redish caste in the darker skin areas, that I couldn't solve with this particular W500.
From Space Cowboys: In general this image tends to have more red in the photos than what I see on the screen. This is a limitation of my digital camera. However, in this scene the shirts are supposed to be gray, and the skin tones, well, less red!
Here's some night time images, this time from Phantom of the Opera, HD-DVD and two from House of the Flying Daggers:
Back to Phantom Of The Opera, this time, from the Black and White scene at the beginning. You can make out here, the shift to red, especially in the lower left, that I have mentioned (again, and will again).
Two from Aeon Flux (Blu-Ray DVD):
Overall, skin tones are well handled, the issue being skin tones in darker scenes, where red is strong, plus the shift to red overall, in the lower left side of the screen.
BenQ W500 Home Theater Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail
The W500 projector is capable of nice dark blacks, the problem is that there is little shadow detail in the sample I received. The dark detail is all crushed, basically gone. I used the default 7.5 IRE setting, which should be correct. Switching to 0.0 IRE, produced more shadow detail, but sinficantly raised black levels up to dark grays that just weren't dark enough.
The Dynamic Iris performed well, noticeably dropping black levels in the types of scenes where frame by frame iris control is most effective. Without the Iris engaged, it is fully open, and once again, black levels are too light a gray. I strongly recommend running the Dynamic Iris On for movie viewing.
Time to take a look. This first image, from Lord of the Rings, when you click on it, will provide a close up of the lower right hand corner, one that is a bit overexposed. You will note the loss of shadow detail, in that you can barely make out the mountains, and really can't see the fields below them, as you can with this same image on a number of other projectors.
Next, from Space Cowboys (Blu-Ray DVD), is the re-entry scene I have been using in recent reviews.
Click on this image to see a more overexposed, larger frame. You can compare this with other projectors, looking for the detail in the dark areas of the earth's surface on the right side.
By comparison, here is the same sequence from the Optoma HD73 (note the lack of red shift).
Clicking on this image below, from Lord of the Rings (SD-DVD), will bring up a larger, and overexposed version. You are looking for how much you can see in the dark areas of the shed, along the bottom, etc. This image is also found in almost all reviews.
In the hunt for shadow detail, click on the image immeditately below, for a closer overexposed image. Even here, there is very little detail in the portion of the satellite occupying the lower left.
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BenQ W500 home theater projector: Sharpness
The W500 produces a good, sharp image. Not quite as good as some of the more expensive 720p projectors, but a touch sharper than the entry level DLP projectors. click below for a larger closer look at two images. Both are from 1080p sources. There is also a little bowing of the image, especially if using most of the vertical lens shift. Of late, I've been reviewing a lot of 1080p home theater projectors, so, in switching to the W500, I have to say, about it's image sharpness, "not bad at all", and I'm definitely spoiled by the 1080p projectors.
BenQ W500 Overall Picture Quality
The "big picture" impression of the W500's image quality is really very good. As I am writing this I just watched a bit of Jay Leno on it, and then a hi-def concert of The Who. Despite its flaws, the W500 is enjoyable to watch. It is at its best on brighter scenes and is weakest in the really dark ones. That said, most without a critical eye, would not realize there is more detail that could be revealed.
Here are a few general purpose images, both hi-def DVD and hi-def cable:
This scene from House of the Flying Daggers really looked wonderful on the W500. (As did all the bright scenes in that movie:
also from "Daggers":
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And now a few off of HDTV (hd cable channels):
Bottom Line: Overall, good picture quality, a sharp image for an entry level 720p projector, plenty of brightness even in Cinema mode, for medium to larger screens. Black levels are just fine, with dynamic iris on, but there is some dark crushing - a lack of shadow detail, relative to the competition. Not bad, overall, in fact most enjoyable to just watch.